- - Thursday, October 4, 2012

“American Idol” season 12 tapings are just getting under way and Keith Urban already has become more than just a judge: He’s also the pacifier on the newly-minted panel.

“We’re all passionate people and we’re learning a new dance and we’re all a work in progress,” Mr. Urban said Wednesday at the New York Film Festival gala honoring his wife, Nicole Kidman. According to the Associated Press, he likened his role on “Idol” to that of the United Nations.

Rumors of drama between fellow judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey began to swirl as soon as the new panel was announced. A blurry Web video released Tuesday by TMZ.com shows what appears to be an argument between Miss Minaj and Miss Carey, fueling gossip of discontent among the judges.

But Mr. Urban insisted the group, which also includes veteran judge Randy Jackson, is “getting along.” The new season of the Fox singing competition premieres in January.

In the Web video Mr. Urban is seen raising his hands in defeat next to a seemingly furious Miss Minaj, who is shouting obscenities. A composed Miss Carey is heard saying, “Why do I have a 3-year-old sitting around me?”

When asked what it feels like to be stationed between the dueling divas, Mr. Urban cracked a wry smile.

“Best seat in the house,” he said.

‘Shore’ cast looks back as final season gets started

The clock is ticking for “Jersey Shore.”

The boozy reality TV series about a group of self-proclaimed “guidos” and “guidettes” cohabiting in a run-down Seaside Heights, N.J., party house is winding down as its sixth — and MTV promises final — season gets under way almost three years after it debuted and became a pop-cultural situation spawning catchphrases, punch lines, hairdos and tabloid fodder.

Don’t remind the show’s cast. They’re not quite ready for their 15 minutes of fame to end.

“That was the longest 15 minutes of my life!” Ronnie Ortiz-Magro boasted during a recent Associated Press interview with his pals.

“We got, like, a half hour,” joked Paul “DJ Pauly D” DelVecchio.

What began as yet another MTV reality show — “The Real World” with fist-pumping Italian-American twentysomethings — became one of the network’s biggest hits. Over the past five seasons, the Thursday night show dominated the Nielsen ratings, drawing as many as 8 million viewers and consistently ranking as the No. 1 cable series in the 12-to-34-year-old demographic.

As the popularity of “Jersey Shore” grew, so did disdain for the series documenting the drunken antics of Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and company. Italian-American anti-defamation groups lashed out at “Jersey Shore” for its stereotypical portrayals. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie once deemed it “negative for New Jersey.”

Despite the continued unapologetic success of the series, MTV announced this summer that the sixth edition would be the last call for the “Jersey Shore” cast and crew, who fled winter for Miami Beach in the second season and traveled to Italy for the fourth edition. It’s a bittersweet moment for the tanned troupe, who have no interest in fading out of the spotlight.

“Everything has to come to an end,” Mr. DelVecchio said. ” ‘Sopranos’ ended. ‘Entourage’ ended. ‘Jersey Shore’ has to end. It’s only a chapter of our lives. Now, another chapter of our lives is opening. We’re just gonna use that tool. Whoever is smart enough to make the right decisions will make it last forever. That’s the name of the game: making it last forever.”

The start of the sixth season, again filmed over the summer in Seaside Heights, N.J., found the cast at very different places in their lives: Ms. Polizzi was six months pregnant and engaged, Deena Nicole Cortese had just dropped several pounds and gained a boyfriend, and Mr. Sorrentino vowed to stay sober after a stint in rehab for an addiction to painkillers.

“I took it day by day,” Mr. Sorrentino said. “I knew it was going to be an obstacle in how I was going to handle it, how they were going to handle it and how our relationship would change, if it changed at all. I just took it moment by moment. I tried to be the best Mike that I can be. Pauly, Ronnie and the whole crew really helped me get through the season.”

So after living the past three years in front of MTV — and paparazzi — cameras, are the cast mates going to miss all the attention, and those lucrative endorsement deals?

“As long as we’re all happy, successful, doing what we love to do after this I’m sure that’s all that matters,” said Samantha Giancola, who recently moved in with Mr. Ortiz-Magro, her on-again, off-again boyfriend from the show.

Netflix sets premiere date for ‘House of Cards’

Netflix’s highly anticipated original series “House of Cards” will premiere Feb. 1.

The subscription video company announced the debut date Thursday. The series is the most ambitious effort yet by Netflix to supply its 27 million streaming users with original programming.

The remake of the classic British miniseries stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. It’s produced by David Fincher, who directed the first two episodes. Mr. Spacey plays a ruthless, strategizing House majority whip.

All 13 episodes will be immediately available to Netflix members in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Latin America and Scandinavia.

The show’s second season will begin production next year.

Compiled from staff and wire reports